Phone Conversation Reveals Opposition Desire to Destabilise Venezuela

On Tuesday National Assembly legislator and president of the special commission that investigates assassination and coup attempts, Mario Isea, denounced an alleged opposition plan to destabilise the country or to possibly get rid of President Hugo Chavez.
National Assembly Deputy Mario Isea, left, and Adm. Rafael Clavier (YVKE)

Mérida, June 10th 2009 ( – On Tuesday National Assembly legislator and president of the special commission that investigates assassination and coup attempts, Mario Isea, denounced an alleged opposition plan to destabilise the country or to possibly get rid of President Hugo Chavez.

Isea said sections of the Venezuelan far right are calling on abandoning the “democratic” battle and to overthrow the government in July or August.

He based his claims on a recording of a phone conversation between admiral Rafael Clavier, a former inspector of the Armed Forces and president of the Institutional Military Front and another unknown person who was referred to in the conversation as Edgar.

The Institutional Military Front groups together military officers of previous right wing and corrupt governments and those who lost their benefits when Chavez was elected, explained legislator Iris Varela. Chavez also named this group as being involved in the assassination plan for his trip to El Salvador last week.

In the conversation, which goes for five minutes and was aired on Venezuela TV (VTV), Clavier rings “Edgar” after a meeting he has just had with opposition members and vents his views about the meeting, the state of the opposition, and what needs to be done. Isea said the phone call was made on 21 May, a day after an opposition student protest of the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) took place over government budget cuts to higher education.

The two complain in the conversation that the opposition is stuck with doing such protests and isn’t going anywhere. In the phone conversation they refer to the end of the march at the Ministry of Education where opposition students began to debate pro-Chavez students, then walked out, as an ambush.

Clavier also expresses frustration with sectors of the opposition who insist on doing things “democratically” and repeats numerous times the need for “another type of struggle.” He argues that the opposition’s strategy hasn’t produced the results they were after and suggests July and August as the best time to generate instability in the country.

Clavier: Look I’ll tell you something Edgar, the truth is that the, that what’s happening here man, I tell you something, I think that now the country and everyone are expecting something.

Edgar: That’s right

Clavier: Expecting that someone takes on the…yep, they marched, but we don’t go anywhere from there. We continue doing the same thing and so I advised Antonio [Ledezma] that someone has to call something…

Edgar: And it also gives the impression that the opposition leadership isn’t prepared, well, to take on another type of struggle

Clavier: Yes that’s what I’m talking about. They don’t understand the struggle is something else. It’s not a democratic struggle.

Edgar: In fact, it’s already time to take risks, nor are they prepared to go into a position of secrecy.

Clavier: Yes all that, because I think it has to be done soon, and in another type of struggle.

At this point in the conversation Edgar suggests forming a patriotic junta like the one that opposed the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez. Jimenez ruled Venezuela from 1952 until 1958.

Clavier: that’s what I’m talking about, I say it because they haven’t created anything like it…

Edgar…Patriotic junta…

Clavier: Yes with the same name, the guy is taking us to the edge…we are all cornered, a fence… now I’m going to tell you something. I think, as I understand it, according to what came out of this meeting, is that …but these people are preparing…

Edgar: of course

Clavier: …with everything until the end, until you don’t see a bone of this idiot [likely referring to Chavez]

Edgar: Yes

Clavier: They are going to accuse the government, with these sons of bitches now you’ll see the thing, that’s what they told me today in the meeting

Edgar: Of course

Clavier: …and just now in the meeting…well they are predicting the big crisis for August, an economic crisis is going to flame up between July and August.

Edgar: This thing is on the point of bursting

Clavier: …yes, good, that was one of the conclusions that we arrived at today

Today, speaking on opposition station RCTV, Clavier said by “other types of struggle” he meant that there currently isn’t democracy in Venezuela so other methods of struggle must be used.

Varela called on Venezuelans to be alert to the opposition’s destabilising plans, saying that such plans “are growing and they want to repeat [the failed coup of] 11 April [2002] but as an assassination. She citied the governor of Tachira, Cesar Perez, as an example, who she said is linked to paramilitarism and drug smuggling and last week announced that he was forming “self defense” groups.

The Bolivian ambassador in Venezuela, Jorge Alvarado, said that failed attempts to get rid of presidents in Venezuela and Bolivia through recall referendum mean the opposition is resorting to assassination plans.

Legislator Calixto Ortega added that the opposition is planning such things because they see electoral victory as impossible.

Also, on Sunday, on his weekly show, Hello President, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez repeated his convictions that the planned assassination attempt towards himself and Bolivian President Evo Morales as they were to be on their way to the swearing in ceremony of new El Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes, was planned by Luis Posada Carriles “from Miami and his allies in Central America and here [in Venezuela].”

Carriles is an ex-CIA agent and Cuban-born Venezuelan who was involved in the 1976 attack on a Cubana plane, which saw 73 people die.

Venezuelan journalist and former Vice-President under Chávez, José Vicente Rangel, elaborated that intelligence organizations have identified several Venezuelans, who, together with people linked with security organizations in El Salvador and the “terrorist network” that Carriles has established, were planning the assassination.

Rangel said one of the people involved was a retired military officer who participated in the coup d’état of April 2002 and who “was exiled in El Salvador for a long time and later resided Spain, which he left in the last few weeks to go to Central America.”

Tarek El Aissami, minister for justice and internal affairs, denounced opposition media for “silencing and trivialising” the assassination plan. “We know it is part of the plan to try to downplay these accusations… in order to hide an action whose purpose was to assassinate the president.”